An Update On Garden-Related Topics For The Beginning Of August

It’s been a pretty hectic couple of weeks around here, but I wanted to fill you in on how the garden is doing, and a fun upcoming gardening event or two.

First of all, I harvested our first ‘Yukon Gold’ potato  this  week!  After you heard about my travails with with potato plants this year–flea beetles=1, Minerva’s Garden=0–I thought I’d better share this little victory with you as well. Nice and smooth and not damaged, so hopefully there will be more like this from the hills later in the season.

My yellow begonnia started to bloom after two years of waiting–I was pretty excited to finally get to see the result:

Everything vegetable-wise is growing, but not much is producing at the moment, which is not surprising due to the cold spring and most of summer we’ve had thus far.  We should have a fantastic autumn harvest, however!

Yesterday we u-picked 5 pounds of raspberries (not a good time for picking raspberries–the June-bearing ones are about done, and the fall-bearing ones haven’t started, so there wasn’t much to pick) and 11 pounds of blueberries (this was an excellent time for picking blueberries here–the bushes were loaded with fruit, and the picking went pretty quickly.)  I made two pints of Cranberry-Raspberry Jam, and 2 pints of sugar-free Raspberry Preserves.  I so far have individually quick frozen a one-gallon freezer bag of blueberries, and today I’ll freeze more and make some Spiced Blueberry Marmalade–all of these are freezer jams.

There are a couple of fun gardening events coming up that I want to let you know about.  About four years ago, I took a class at the Home Orchard Society to learn how to graft fruit trees.  It was inexpensive, a lot of fun, and I learned a great new gardening skill.  I also took a fruit tree pruning class that they offered as well.  August is when they offer a Summer Budding Workshop, which is a method of grafting new fruit trees in the summer months (fruit tree grafting usually happens in March, not summertime, with this one exception.)  By learning how to graft, you can build new mini-dwarf fruit trees that only reach 4-6 feet tall at maturity, a much better size than standard fruit trees that reach 22 feet tall for modern gardens, and you can learn how to prune and train fruit trees into different shapes.  I have an espaliered Belgian Fence in my backyard that is growing, and allows me to grow 8 mini-dwarf fruit trees in only 15 feet of space.  Try that with standard fruit trees, and you see the advantages of using the mini-dwarfs.  Also, you don’t need to get out ladders to pick the fruit or prune, either, with the smaller trees, but they produce a substantial amount of fruit.   You will pay around $22 or more for a grafted mini-dwarf fruit tree at a nursery, but you can build your own for only $5, so there is a substantial savings.

If you want to get t started with this, here is what I would suggest.  Start by going to the All About Fruit Show in October.  Here you will find samples of all the different kinds of fruits that will grow here–you can taste, and make a list of the specific varieties that you’d like to grow. You can also ask the fruit tree experts there your questions.   Then in February the following year, take the grafting class.  They take you through the process step-by-step, with people helping you, and you actually graft a fruit tree to take home with you.  Then in March attend the Rootstock Sale and Scion Exchange, where you can purchase mini-dwarf rootstocks and get free scionwood of hundreds of different varieties of apples, pears, plums,and more, like grapes and figs.  (The grapevine growing up my pergola is an ‘Einset,’ and I started it from a free cutting I got at the Scion Exchange!)  Than you go home and graft your trees and plant them in March.  (If you prefer, you can order trees to be grafted for you, and pick them up at the Sale–they cost around $10 or so for each tree.  You tell them what rootstock you want used and what tree varieties you want grafted onto the rootstock and they do the work for you.)  The trees will take about 4 years to reach a mature height and before you should let them produce fruit, so you have to be a little patient, but you’ll end up with beautiful trees for a fraction of the cost of buying them retail, and with heirloom varieties that you can’t find at the nurseries.  I highly recommend this–it’s been fun for me.

To whet you appetite, here is a little video we made over a year ago about grafting and my Belgian fence:

If you want to attend the Budding Workshop information is here, and the All About Fruit Show information is here.  If you don’t live in the Portland, Oregon area, here are two books that talk about grafting and espalier that I recommend:

Toogood, Alan, ed. Plant Propagation. New York: DK Publishing, 1999

Brickell, Christopher and David Joyce. Pruning & Training: A Fully Illustrated Plant-by-Plant Manual. New York: DK Publishing, 1996.

How is your garden growing?  Do you graft fruit trees or other plants?  Do tell in the comments!

Please stop on by the Tuesday Garden Party at An Oregon Cottage for more beautiful gardens!

And try Oh, How My Garden Grow!




  1. Alea said,

    August 3, 2010 at 7:25 pm

    I haven’t grafted in years, but your vlog has inspired me to try again!

    • minervasgardenwriter said,

      August 3, 2010 at 7:44 pm


  2. zentMRS said,

    August 3, 2010 at 7:49 pm

    Great advice here! Enjoyed the vlog!

    • minervasgardenwriter said,

      August 3, 2010 at 8:16 pm

      Thank you–we had fun putting it together!

  3. Melinda said,

    August 4, 2010 at 6:44 pm

    I’m still salivating over your 11 pounds of blueberries! Wow!

    • minervasgardenwriter said,

      August 4, 2010 at 7:54 pm

      I spent the last two days making jam and preserves–it was a bit of a project, but it’s nice to have it all in the freezer. I just turn on good music and get cooking!

  4. Tosha said,

    August 6, 2010 at 2:35 pm

    wow, that is so cool. I don’t know if I could be patient enough to grow the trees right!

    • minervasgardenwriter said,

      August 9, 2010 at 6:39 am

      It does takes some time to see the results of your work, but trees are pretty easy compared to other plants, and the results last for many years, so it’s pretty worthwhile.

  5. August 7, 2010 at 11:07 pm

    Oh my, I’ve never tried espalier or grafting, but I admire anyone who does. 🙂 Thanks linking up to the TGP!

    • minervasgardenwriter said,

      August 9, 2010 at 6:28 am

      i’m happy to do it–thank you for providing such a great party every Tuesday!

  6. October 4, 2011 at 4:15 am

    […] I grafted back in 2006, and it is a part of my espaliered Belgian fence that is in our backyard (see here for more on the Belgian fence.)  The tree variety, or scionwood, was grafted onto an M-27 rootstock, which produces a mini-dwarf […]

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